Attorney General Ken Paxton: In the midst of what everyone knows is a national and international crisis where people are dying, they are willing to take resources away from those people to do a procedure that doesn’t have to be done right now. That is – that is purely elective.
End of Excerpt
John Fuller: That’s Attorney General Ken Paxton from Texas and he’s our guest on a special two-part episode of Focus on the Family with your host, Jim Daly. We’ll be joined later by Representative Dan Lipinski, a pro-life Democrat from Illinois. Thanks for joining us. I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: You know, John, here at Focus on the Family, we stand for life. Whether we’re talking about the sick, the elderly, those with special needs, those marginalized by society. Think of the pre-born in that way as well. These are human beings who are the tiniest, the most fragile, among us and we are there to defend them.
John: And that was certainly a theme of our big event in New York Times Square last May. Alive from New York where we celebrated life and showed a 4D ultrasound, a third trimester on the screens there in Times Square. We’re going back on September 26th for ALIVE2020. Originally planned for next month, but, of course, it’s been rescheduled. September 26th. Mark that down and see if you can join us in one of the five cities we’ll be at as we continue to celebrate life.
Jim: It’s true, John. September 26th. Mark it down. Join us. Be a part of it. I want to turn a corner and talk about something that’s going on in the culture right now that’s really important. You may have seen it in the news. Texas along with other states – they’ve made the decision that abortion is an elective procedure, not essential, and therefore they’re suspending abortions during the time that the government is fighting this coronavirus. Well, it’s become a big issue and one of the key things is providing the equipment, the supplies, that the medical community needs to fight the coronavirus and not doing these elective procedures. Well, with Texas we were able to talk to the Attorney General, Ken Paxton, to get a perspective about the Governor’s decision in Texas not to do abortion right now. Why they decided that and what legal entanglements they’re running into.
John: And Ken Paxton is personally committed to life. You’ll hear that in this conversation. And let’s go ahead and begin the first part of our special two-part episode of Focus on the Family.
Jim: Attorney General Paxton, welcome to Focus on the Family.
Attorney General Paxton: Hey, thanks for having me back on.
Jim: Hey, I want to share with our listeners what’s happening in Texas. I’ve been reading in the media some of the battle that’s going on there. Other states are seeing this, too. I mentioned Ohio, I think Mississippi, Alabama and others. But on March 22nd in the face of the coronavirus situation, Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order postponing any surgeries and procedures not immediately necessary. In other words, kind of the elective surgeries and designated abortion a non-essential procedure. What was his intention? What was he striving to accomplish?
Attorney General Paxton: So, obviously your listeners are aware that we have a crisis going on in the nation as it relates to the coronavirus and the Governor has emergency powers when there’s a sort of state of emergency or a state crisis to do things like this. Issue executive orders to deal with issues like this. And he decided because it was such a risk of this virus affecting so many people that he would stop all elective procedures so that hospitals would have availability. So that equipment would be available for people that were potentially in – in, uh, life threatening situations or in very serious medical situations. And so, uh, he stopped all elective procedures.
Jim: And that is something that the term elective procedure for abortion has been really accepted by all sides of this debate from the beginning. Every physician I know – OBGYN – has always considered abortion an elective procedure. That’s pretty much settled, correct?
Attorney General Paxton: Well, and the, uh – the pro-abortion narrative has always been it’s about – it’s a choice, right? It’s, uh – it’s not…
Attorney General Paxton: …Not mandated. They don’t want anything mandated one way or the other and – and this is about choice. So, clearly, they have always thought it was elective and – and all they really want here is an exception so that they’re doctors can continue performing abortions during a crisis for our state.
Attorney General Paxton: And nation.
Jim: How do you feel about these groups who – you’re mentioning them now – but they refuse to save lives from the coronavirus by using up the PPE’s, the personal protective equipment, so that the taking of life can be done. But speak to that bigger debate politically that, you know, we’re talking about an incredible hypocrisy here.
Attorney General Paxton: Well, it’s sad enough that these Planned Parenthood and other groups like them want to take, you know, the unborn life. But, now in the midst of what everyone knows is a national and international crisis where people are dying, they are willing to take resources away from those people to do a procedure that doesn’t have to be done right now. That is purely elective. And I guess that’s the shocking part that they’re willing to go out publicly and fight this and just say, “This is all about abortion.” When in reality it’s about them. Their doctors making money and Planned Parenthood making money. And – and about their unwillingness to do what everyone else seems to be willing to do in this nation which is to worry about the people that are suffering serious illness right now.
Jim: You know, as you’re going toe-to-toe with the abortion industry – Planned Parenthood being the biggest in that group – um, what’s been their response? How do they justify, uh, going against the Governor’s order?
Attorney General Paxton: Just attacks. They don’t really address the issue of what they’re actually doing which is taking resources. They won’t talk about that. Um, and – and it’s so interesting because they really are the only group that’s fought these elective procedures. There’s lots of doctors who are now not making money that they otherwise would make or who are not taking care of their patients. I have a friend who needed eye surgery and he – he really can’t see very well and so, he’s not getting that done because that’s considered elective. And here you have a group that says, “Look, we needed to be treated differently, and better, and special. And despite the fact that all the suffering of people giving up and sacrificing right now both, you know, with their health and with, uh, financially, we’re not going to be subject to those same orders. We need to be treated better and we want to be above everybody else in the order of how – how people are treated at the state level.”
Jim: Right. And Attorney General some people would say, “Well, let me throw it all at ya. You’re a man. You’re in power. You have no idea what this about. You have no idea what this is about. You don’t know the anguish a woman is going to go through.” And that is true. I mean, the anguish part, I get that. But this is something personal for you. Why?
Attorney General Paxton: Yeah. It’s personal to me because I – I think, you know, having a wife that was adopted prior to Roe v. Wade and – and given the opportunity by her birth mother for life and then knowing that, you know, we have four children that are alive today because of that. It has, um, unending positive effects. The fact that, you know, her life was spared and so, any life that’s spared and given an opportunity to have the impact, that, say, my wife has had is worth pursuing.
Jim: Well, and I so appreciate that because that’s the bottom line. You know, oftentimes, uh, Attorney General, we, uh, struggle in the Christian community to rightly express the reasons we fight for the pre-born. It’s not a battle against anybody. All we’re trying to say is that God is the Author of Life. It starts at conception. As I had these doctors on, they talked about that unique cell. That first cell that is formed with the sperm and the egg has the 23-and-me genetic code that’s unique to the – against the other 8 billion people in the world. It starts right there. That is the unique human being that God is created in that mother’s womb. That’s what we fight for. It’s not personal. It’s not to take anybody’s rights away. But also, to not take away the rights of this pre-born child. And why, as someone trained in the law – why is that such a hard thing for people to get? That this child – some of them receiving surgery in utero. Blood transfusions, heart surgeries, lung surgeries, spina bifida surgeries at 20, 22 weeks in gestation to save their physical bodies. Why do we not consider them human in the law?
Attorney General Paxton: You know, that’s a really good question and – and that battle has been waging and I think it’s a winning battle for us because as science, uh, allows for viability to be earlier and earlier and people realize that these babies – through technology you can see them in the womb. As you’ve said you provide sonograms for them. So, it’s – the argument from a scientific perspective and from a technology perspective on viability, I think we’re winning. And even with that evidence it is shocking to me that people ignore that. They’re so about science until science isn’t on their side and then they want to ignore it. So, it’s, you know – it’s hard to explain that.
Jim: Well, and that’s well said. You have – you have really put it right there. And we’re so grateful to your Governor. To your leadership – the state of Texas. Those constituents in Texas that elected you, they’ve got to be proud of you. It’s hard in this culture to kind of put a stake in the ground and say, “Listen, right now with the coronavirus this is not a time to electively end the life of these children. And, uh, it is the time to rally together as Americans, as Texans, to save as many lives as we can with the coronavirus. That means suspending the taking of life through abortion.” And we admire your courage politically and we admired your character in doing it, so thank you and thank the Governor for me.
Attorney General Paxton: I’ll absolutely do that and in the end it’s all about life and we’re hopefully going to be victorious in saving lots of lives. Both those who are sick and those who are unborn.
John: That was Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on this episode of Focus on the Family describing the legal battle there in the state of Texas about the nature of abortion. Is it an elective procedure or not? And that’s certainly a story we’ll be following in the days ahead. Let me quickly say you can find us online if you have any questions or if you’d like to follow along with us on that story. Our website is focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Or give us a call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.
Jim: Well, we are so grateful for these pro-life officials who are running the race and fighting the good fight and defending the lives of these pre-born babies. I – I want to turn now to a different, yet related story. Another public servant who deserves recognition for boldly standing for life and that’s Congressman Dan Lipinski. He’s faced ridicule and criticism, much of it coming from his own party. And recently he experienced the ultimate political fallout and he lost his primary to another pro-choice Democrat candidate. But he has such great perspective and you’re going to hear that come through the discussion I had with him.
John: Yeah. His courage is really inspiring so let’s go ahead and join that interview that Jim had with Congressman Dan Lipinski.
Jim: Congressman Lipinski, welcome to Focus on the Family.
Congressman Dan Lipinski: It’s good to be with you, Jim.
Jim: You are a pro-life Democrat. And I want to thank you for your stance and applaud your efforts in this area. Let me ask you, though, where did that strong conviction come from?
Congressman Lipinski: Well, I always explain to people that I initially came to being pro-life because as a Catholic, that’s what I was taught at home and at church and in school. And through the years as I got older and learned more about the science, I also understood that science shows us that life begins at conception. So, it’s not just my belief coming from my Catholic faith, but from science that shows us that life begins at conception. And because of my faith, I understand that life needs to be protected. And so that’s why I am so strongly pro-life. I believe in the protection of the most vulnerable is the most important thing that I stand for.
Jim: And I so appreciate the clarity of that. And that’s something we’ve talked about on Focus on the Family. And I’ve often referred to this as rising above kind of the party politics stuff. This is a moral issue within the culture that many of us can see eye-to-eye on. I get the argument. I – I – my mom, in fact, in California – I was born in 1961. But even in California at that time, my mom was 42 and abortions were allowed for older mothers above the age of 40 in the 60s, because they thought it might be medically necessary to prevent the birth of a child who had some kind of defect. Um, my siblings might argue that I do fit that category. (Laughter) But I think for the most part, I’m so grateful that my mom and dad chose life for me. But it’s just one little story in the big story of all that’s taken place in this debate, et cetera. Let me get to the core of the issue. We just talked to A.G. Paxton from Texas. Um, you’ve probably seen this as well. There’s a handful of states that have put abortions – kind of suspended abortions during this time of the – the coronavirus fight because of the medical equipment necessary. Lots of reasons, but primarily to focus the attention of the fight toward the coronavirus. And this has become very controversial. What are your thoughts about this? Where these governors are beginning to say, “We need all assets – medical assets – on the coronavirus fight. We need to suspend all elective surgery. And for right now, that includes the issue of abortion.”
Congressman Lipinski: Well, I – I think because of the – the great need and our health care systems being stretched beyond their – their limits and in many cases, in many areas, we need to be focusing on taking care of those who are suffering from the coronavirus. And I think it makes perfect sense to say as they have – as most states that have faced a lot of cases have said that elective surgery should not be taking place. And I think it makes sense than that, uh, abortion procedures should also be stopped so that we can focus all the resources – all the medical resources – on treating patients with Covid-19.
Jim: Yeah, and it makes sense. And unfortunately, even this has become rather divisive. Let me ask you, in a culture that prides itself on inclusion and I think, you know – I think that’s a great thing. Why do you think the pro-life issue is so divisive when we want to be protecting people and be inclusive of many people – of all people? Why does the abortion issue solicit so much, uh, divisiveness on both sides?
Congressman Lipinski: There used to be people in our country that whether they’re on one side or the other would say, “OK, this is a complicated issue and let’s sit down and talk about our differences on this and let’s see what we can work out. May – maybe we can talk to each other. Maybe we can convince each other of something.” Um, but we can’t even do that anymore. I think that’s a – a really big problem. People just stop listening. But probably the most encouraging thing to me in the life movement is how many young people are…
Congressman Lipinski: …Pro-life. And they are really looking at it. They’re really looking at what’s going on here. I had a woman – young woman come up to me at – at an event. She’s in college. This had nothing to do with pro-life. It was on a completely different issue. She was with her – her mother. And after talking about the issue that, uh, we were there to talk about she said, “I just – there’s something else I just want to let you know.” And I could tell her mother wasn’t really happy, uh, with what she’s about to say, but sort of let her daughter go in. So the, you know, young college-age woman said, “I’m pro-life, and I just want you to know that, uh, how important it is to me that you stand up for being pro-life and I want to thank you for doing that.”
Congressman Lipinski: And here was a young woman who – and I said, “You, know, thank you so much for that. Thank you for being pro-life. And how did you come to that?” And she said, “I looked at the issue and I looked at the facts.” And clearly this was not something that she had learned at home. It’s something her mother wasn’t happy with. But her mother said, “You know, I raised my – my daughter to… I educated my daughter. Told her that she needs to think for herself. Look at what the facts are, what she sees and make her decisions. And she’s done that. And I may not agree with where she’s come down, but that’s what she has come to.” And that is a story that I will always remember. Always remember that – this woman. And people get to a point where they stop looking at what are the – the facts out there. And I think for us in the pro-life movement, the more that we can talk about life, what this means, look at the science of it. That’s where we can win people over and just the other side does not want to talk about it.
Jim: Let me ask you for your – your March primary. I mean, again, we have watched from a distance. You and I have run into each other at the March for Life and different events in Washington. I’ve, again, always appreciated your pro-life position and I’ve prayed for you. I think about you because I think of, you know, the tremendous pressure you’re under as a Democrat, um, you know, being in the House of Representatives, but being pro-life and being staunchly pro-life. I – I have so admired your courage in that regard. You get to the March primary, you seem to have been – and I don’t want to put words into your mouth, but it seems that they – they being, you know – political operatives have been after your seat for a while. And you’ve had primaries where they have run people who are pro-choice against you quite consistently, almost every election cycle. And March, they finally beat you by a slim margin. Describe what happened and why your conviction is, “It’s over this issue.”
Congressman Lipinski: Well, it was a very slim margin. It was, uh, toughly fought race. I worked harder on this campaign than probably anything in – in my life because I knew after last – last primary, two years ago that, uh, it was close. I knew they’d be coming after me again. And we all saw that, um, it was the same opponent I had last time. And the same groups – NARAL, Planned Parenthood, Emily’s List – they threw over three million dollars in last time and they did it again this time. And if it were not for the fact that I am pro-life, these groups would not have gotten involved. That money would not have been spent. And I don’t believe this would have at all been a race. So, because of that, I mean, it’s clear to me that it – it’s because I’m pro-life. That is why the money was spent. But you also have to look at there were five Democratic presidential candidates who endorsed my opponent and I’m pretty certain the only thing they knew is that I was pro-life. And it was just a signal that look – look how, uh – how strongly I support abortion rights. I will come out and oppose this terrible pro-life Democrat in our party. There has been a really strong effort, more than I’d ever seen before in the past year to push pro-life, elected officials – Democratic elected officials out of – out of the party. And so, that clearly was going on here. And, uh, look, the day after I got up and said in my concession speech that this was this is an issue that I was never going to back down on. And I made that clear all along and I think that’s why they made it a point to really come hard after me and to – to knock me out. But I’m proud that I stood there. It’s more important to me than keeping the seat. I’m proud to have served for, uh – for 16 years. I still have almost nine months to go, but I’ll continue to be a strong pro-life voice in Congress in my time and afterwards on the outside.
Jim: Let me end with this one. You read a statement, a powerful statement, and you said this, “To stand in solidarity with the vulnerable is to become vulnerable.” That is so consistent. And I again want to applaud you. Even, you know, in a – in a party that doesn’t appreciate, generally, a pro-life position that you have been able to stand and be consistent with science, with your faith and with your political convictions. You know, you and I are going to disagree on certain things like the size of government, the involvement of government, all those kinds of things. But on this most core issue about the right to life, we’re in agreement. And I think I’d end with this. Um, any regrets regarding your position and the fact that you’ve suffered at least a temporary political setback? Any – any looking back going, “Wow, I could have made my life easier by just doing it differently”?
Congressman Lipinski: No regrets whatsoever. At the end of the day, I have to live with myself and at the end of my life I will be facing God – be facing Jesus – and have to account for – for my life. And that is so much more important than anything else. And if Jesus stood for the vulnerable, clearly, and He made Himself vulnerable. And that is the example to try to – to strive for and to live – to live for God and the way God wants us to live. And that’s what’s more important to me than anything else. And I hate to lose the election, but I actually, uh, feel very good with the support that I received. I’ve been uplifted by – by many people. And, um, I feel that, uh, in this way, I’ve done – lived by, uh, what God wanted me to do. And, uh, I know that God will take care of me. This may be a difficult to lose, but I know that God has a plan for me, and He has something. I truly believe God has something greater planned for me and for my life. And, um, I will live by God’s will.
Jim: Wow. Congressman Dan Lipinski from Illinois. I – I really sincerely say this. You’re a man of conviction. Thank you for sticking to those convictions. Thanks for modeling what it means in this modern era to know who you are and what you are. Especially as believers in Christ. Again, I so appreciate it. Thank you for being with us today.
Congressman Lipinski: Thank you.
John: Well, we appreciate that heart that you heard expressed by Congressman Dan Lipinski on this episode of Focus on the Family.
Jim: Yeah. Dan Lipinski’s story is so inspiring. Uh, the political ramifications for taking that kind of unpopular position. Uh, man, it’s intense. He’s never apologized or backed down from his pro-life perspective though. That’s what’s so awesome and I wanted to get his voice on the Focus program so people could hear that. It kind of breaks down that caricature of everybody being one way and the other group being the other way. Uh, what I love about his story is it really makes people scratch their heads. Um, you know, and I appreciate his convictions. He’s consistent and that’s what I’m so grateful about.
John: Well, he really has lived out that principle that Paul wrote about in second Timothy chapter 1 verse 7, “God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love, of sound mind.” And he seems to have really been able to do just that. To express that conviction without fear and very consistently.
Jim: Well, I want to encourage our listeners to pray for Dan Lipinski as well after the November elections coming up, of course, he won’t be reelected. He may find his way back into the political arena. But pray for him and his family. He has suffered a lot because of his, uh, pro-life stance, particularly as a Democrat. And I appreciate his courage so much. I also want us to think about what we’re standing for. That baby. That mother who is facing some difficult choices. I would hope that someday in our country we can come back to the fact that we respect all human life. Not just those who have made it through the birth canal. And for that reason, that’s why we started Option Ultrasound and I am thankful to those of you who have supported the program over, uh, the last 15 years or so. Our estimation is that we’ve together been able to save of 450,000 babies. That’s awesome. I’m excited about that. I think that’s incredible. And it’s at a cost of about $60 per child. So, can we not step up and do that? When you give to Option Ultrasound the entire $60 goes to taking care of saving that baby’s life through training, through putting the ultrasound in these pregnancy resource centers or a mobile unit. It’s a good investment. Trust me. And together, I’d love to see a million babies saved by 2025. Wouldn’t that be great, John?
John: That would be outstanding, and we want to invite you to join us in this pro-life declaration, in this great work behind the scenes with Option Ultrasound. Join the program today. Make a $60 donation when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. Or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast where you can donate and get resources. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.